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CA affirms Vitangcol’s dismissal

By: Rey Panaligan

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the dismissal from the service of former Metro Rail Transit Authority (MRTA) general manager Al Vitangcol III who was also barred perpetually from holding public office.

In a decision written by Associate Justice Pedro Corales, the CA denied the petition filed by Vitangcol who challenged the 2016 ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman on an administrative case filed against him.

The administrative case arose from the attempt of Vitangcol to extort $30 million from a Czech firm INEKON that supplied the light rail vehicles (LRVs).

The CA said “Atty. Vitangcol’s liability for grave misconduct is also beyond doubt. His failed attempts to extort money from INEKON’s representative in exchange for the contract under Lot 1 and to forge a joint venture agreement with INEKON and a group of people that he himself proposed involve the element of corruption and constitute willful intent to violate the law.”

In its investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman found that Vitangcol imposed as pre-condition an advance of $30 million, later reduced to $25 million, and entering into a joint venture with a group for the award of contracts for the supply of additioal LRVs and the maintenance of the MRT3 line in connection with the P3.7 billion MRT3 expansion project in 2012.

But since Vitangcol was already dismissed from his post when the Ombudsman handed its decision, the penalty of dismissal was converted to a fine equivalent to his one year salary.